Can entrepreneurship programmes transform the lives of the poor?

May 22, 2012
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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The following article was originally posted by Anik Ashraf on the International Growth Centre (ICG) website. The video was created by ICG based on recent research initiative lead by Robin Burgess to assess the success of BRAC’s Ultra Poor programme in Bangladesh.

The following article was originally posted by Anik Ashraf on the International Growth Centre (ICG) website. The video was created by ICG based on recent research initiative lead by Robin Burgess to assess the success of BRAC’s Ultra Poor programme in Bangladesh.A new way of helping the world’s poorest people is proving to be a staggering success and is spreading throughout the developing world. Recent research co-authored by Robin Burgess of the LSE and Executive Director of the IGC finds that the scheme led to an increase in people’s incomes of around 35% after two years. For anyone this would be a big jump, but these are women who had previously struggled to feed themselves and their families.

The ‘Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction, Targeting the Ultra Poor’ (CFPR-TUP) programme targets the poorest 10% of people in Bangladesh, focusing on women. Run by BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, the programme has two aims: to help these women ‘graduate’ from being ultra poor to have the basic skills, income, and confidence to begin fending for themselves, and to have enough stability to gain access to the mainstream development programmes, such as microfinance.

The programme starts with a temporary stipend to give the women involved short-term stability and breathing space while they are taught basic livelihood, healthcare and personal finance skills . They are then given an ‘asset’ such as a goat or a small plot of land that they can use to make money for themselves, whether by raising goats to sell milk or cultivating land to grow vegetables. Throughout, the women receive regular support through weekly visits, coaching and guidance. The programme ends with an invitation to join a microfinance scheme and further expand their business. Atiur Rahman, Governor of the Central Bank of Bangladesh said of the programme: ‘The ultra poor who have never been getting any kind of support are now becoming entrepreneurs.’

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